Summary: Isaiah’s inspired words give depth and beauty to the dearly loved statement, "The LORD is my shepherd."
“The LORD is my shepherd.” Of the many comforting words in God’s Word believers throughout the ages have cherished those. The Holy Spirit put those words into the heart of a shepherd-king named David approximately 1000 years before Jesus was born. They have been sung and spoken, shared and declared. They have brought comfort to the fearful, compassion to the hurting, and peace to the dying.
When David wrote, “The LORD is my shepherd,” he made a statement about himself and God. David realized his need for God. Like one of the many sheep he had cared for in his time as a shepherd he saw how helpless and weak he was. He saw this world as a wilderness filled with danger. He also saw God as the one who comforted him when he was afraid, who protected him, and provided for his needs.
On this Good Shepherd Sunday each of us have taken the inspired words of King David for our own. We gladly said in our Psalm for this morning, “The LORD is my shepherd.” But we are at somewhat of a disadvantage in comparison to the author of those words. Most of us have not tended a flock of sheep. We don’t fully realize the subtle truths in identifying ourselves as sheep and the LORD as our shepherd.
The Word of God for our sermon this morning will lead us to more clearly see the LORD as our shepherd. These comforting words from Isaiah tell us plainly how much like sheep we really are. The prophet will point out our need for the LORD as our shepherd and the LORD’s care for us as our shepherd. Since we are directing our attention to the living words of the living God, the Holy Spirit will open our eyes to see the LORD as our shepherd. May each of you:
SEE THE LORD AS YOUR SHEPHERD
I. See your need for Him
II. See His care for you
These verses come from the 40th chapter of Isaiah’s prophecy. That is significant because it marks a turning point in the book. Although chapters 1-39 contain some promises of forgiveness and hope, and some prophecies about Jesus, they primarily are a proclamation of God’s judgment on his people. In chapters 40-66 of Isaiah the LORD offers comfort and good news to his people. In fact, in chapter 40 verse 1, Isaiah wrote, “‘Comfort, comfort my people,’ says your God.” The verses we are focusing on in this sermon are a continuation of that opening declaration of comfort for God’s afflicted people.
But before God’s people can be comforted they must see the painful truth about their condition. Listen again to how Isaiah described it. “A voice says, ‘Cry out.’ And I said, ‘What shall I cry?’ ‘All men are like grass, and all their glory is like the flowers of the field. The grass withers and the flowers fall, because the breath of the LORD blows on them. Surely the people are grass. The grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of our God stands forever.’” The Holy Spirit gave Isaiah the courage to tell it like it is. Through these words the LORD our shepherd shows us our need for him.
It might be helpful for us to view these verses like a funnel. Isaiah shows us our need for the LORD as our shepherd in a general way and then he gradually makes it more personal. Isaiah begins by pointing us to the fact that all people are no more durable than grass. In comparison to the eternal and unchanging nature of God people are indeed no more lasting than grass. Although we are mixing metaphors between grass and sheep it helps us see our need for the LORD as our shepherd.
If you are over the age of 30 you have already begun to experience the withering of your flesh. Our bodies are dying, aren’t they? Even if God gives us good health and a long life we witness what Psalm 90:10 says, “The length of our days is seventy yearsor eighty, if we have the strength; yet their span is but trouble and sorrow, for they quickly pass, and we fly away.” Yes, it is with good reason we say, “The LORD is my shepherd.” When we see our weakness and our mortality we see our need for the LORD as our shepherd.
Not only does Isaiah use our mortality to point to our need for the LORD as our shepherd he also reminds us that we have no other place to turn. “All men are like grass, and all their glory is like the flowers of the field.” The glory of humanity, the best we can do and that we have done, is like a fragile, fading flower. Over the centuries mankind has made great advances in science, medicine, and farming. Yet, we still can’t control the weather. Droughts and floods, evidence of sin’s grip on the world still stifle our efforts. We have wide area radar to tell us when tornados are coming. But they still take lives and do great damage every year. We know more about the human body than any generation before us. Yet, a little girl in Houston has a tumor that only God can stop. Some of you know that my wife has an inner ear disorder in one of her ears. For all the wisdom doctors have in our time they still don’t fully understand how the inner ear works. I don’t say these things to frighten you. I am simply stating what should be obvious. We need the LORD as our shepherd. We are like grass and our greatness is like the wilting pedals of a flower.